Level: beginner

We use quantifiers when we want to give someone information about the number of something: how much or how many.

Sometimes we use a quantifier in the place of a determiner:
 

Most children start school at the age of five.
We ate some bread and butter.
We saw lots of birds.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns

We can use these quantifiers with both count and uncount nouns:

all some more a lot of enough
no any most lots of less

We have lots of time.
Joe has lots of friends.
I can't go out. I've got no money.
There was a lot of food but no drinks.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 1

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Level: intermediate

These more colloquial forms are also used with both count and uncount nouns:

plenty of heaps of  a load of  loads of  tons of

We have loads of time.
Joe has plenty of friends.
There was heaps of food.

Level: beginner

some and any

We do not normally use the quantifier some in negative and interrogative sentences. We normally use any:

Do you have any children?
Did you see any friends?
We don't have any children.
I didn't see any friends.
We saw some lions at the zoo, but we didn't see any tigers.

but we can use some for offers and requests:

Would you like some tea?
I want some apples, please.

some and any 1

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some and any 2

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Quantifiers with count nouns

Some quantifiers can be used only with count nouns:

(not) many each either (a) few
several both neither fewer 

These more colloquial forms are used only with count nouns:

a couple of hundreds of thousands of

I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
There were hundreds of people at the meeting.

Quantifiers with uncount nouns

Some quantifiers can be used only with uncount nouns:

(not) much a bit of a little

Would you like a little wine?
Could I have a bit of butter, please?

These quantifiers are used particularly with abstract nouns such as time, money and trouble:

a great deal of a good deal of

It will probably cost a great deal of money.
He spent a good deal of time watching television.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 3

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Level: intermediate

Members of groups

We put a noun directly after a quantifier when we are talking about members of a group in general:

Few snakes are dangerous.
Most children like chocolate.
I never have enough money.

but if we are talking about members of a specific group, we use of the as well:

Few of the snakes in this zoo are dangerous.
Most of the boys at my school play football.
He’s spent all (of) the money that we gave him.
Both (of) the chairs in my office are broken.

Note: with all and both, we don’t need to use of. We can say all the … and both the … .

both, either and neither

If we are talking about two people or things, we use the quantifiers both, either and neither:

One supermarket Two supermarkets More than two supermarkets

The supermarket
was closed.

Both the supermarkets
were closed.

All the supermarkets
were closed.

The supermarket
wasn’t open.

Neither of the supermarkets
was open.

None of the supermarkets
were open.

I don’t think the supermarket
was open.

I don’t think either of the supermarkets
was open.

I don’t think any of the supermarkets
were open.

Note that nouns with both have a plural verb but nouns with either and neither have a singular verb.

both, either and neither 1

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both, either and neither 2

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every and each

We use the quantifiers every and each with singular nouns to mean all:

There was a party in every street. (= There were parties in all the streets.)
Every shop was decorated with flowers. (= All the shops were decorated with flowers.)
Each child was given a prize. (= All the children were given a prize.)
There was a prize in each competition. (= There were prizes in all the competitions.)

We often use every to talk about times like days, weeks and years:

When we were children, we had holidays at our grandmother's every year.
When we stayed at my grandmother's house, we went to the beach every day.
We visit our daughter every Christmas.

We do not use a determiner with every and each:

Every shop was decorated with flowers. (NOT The every shop)
Each child was given a prize. (NOT The each child)

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In my first example with only "The class", I believe it to be a collective noun, but in my second example "The class of students" "The class of" is acting as an adjective phrase for the plural noun "students" similar to 'A lot of'. Article + Collective noun + of = adjective phrase. This also, to an extent, displays some amount of quantity, possibly making it a quantifier as well? But, if you are saying the whole phrase, 'A class of students' is the collective noun, I have read otherwise on other sites where they say that only 'class' is the collective noun. Anyways, I wouldn't be making such a big deal, but the book I am teaching with introduces both of these topics at the same time, and they even mislabeled some collective nouns as quantifiers, and that got me thinking.

Hello again zakacat,

The function of a quantifier is to answer the question How many? or How much? The answer may be an objective quantity (all, none), a subjective quantity (a lot, a ittle) or a relative quantity (more, less).

In my opinion the phrase 'a class of students' does not perform this function. The word 'class' here is a collective noun: it describes a group of items (here, people) who share a common characteristic and it enables them to be described as a collective whole.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by talin on Mon, 10/06/2019 - 09:36

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hello would you please help me to clarify? is this sentence correct? most boys like football. thx

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 11/06/2019 - 07:37

In reply to by talin

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Hello talin,

Yes, that sentence is grammatically fine, though it should begin with a capital letter.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AminulIslam. on Fri, 26/04/2019 - 07:07

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Dear sir, would you please explain subject verb agreement regarding the word 'all'. Example... 1.all of it depends on you. 2.all of them are interested. 3.all of us are learning English. is it possible to say that all of them/ all of us/ all of it means they, we and it.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 26/04/2019 - 08:11

In reply to by AminulIslam.

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Hello AminulIslam. In a sense, you can say that 'all of them' is equivalent to 'they', 'all of us' to 'we' and 'all of it' to 'it', but this would omit part of the meaning, which is that when we say 'all of' we are telling the listener that there are no exceptions. ~ In terms of subject-verb agreement, the verb agrees with the noun following 'all of'. Thus, in your examples, the verb after 'all of it' is singular, that after 'all of us' is plural and that after 'all of them' is plural. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
sir your explanation is very good... would you please explain the use of before and after ? 1.he will come after she goes. 2.He will come after she has gone.. After and before can be used with future perfect? please mention some examples related to tense . Thanks a lot.
Hello AminulIslam. Following 'after' and 'before' we use present forms rather than 'will' (or 'will have') to talk about the future: >He will come after she goes (not '...after she will go') ~ The choice of present ('goes') or present perfect ('has gone'') is one of emphasis rather than meaning as the time word ('after' or 'before') already fixes the time relationship of the actions. The present perfect merely adds emphasis. ~ References to past time are unchanged: > He came after she went ~ You can read more about the use of different verb forms in time clauses on this page: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/verbs-time-clauses-and-if-clauses ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sam61 on Tue, 19/03/2019 - 08:26

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Hi, In an either/or sentence in which an independent clause follows both either and or, for example, either I'm going to the hotel(,) or I'm going home, does a comma precede the "or"?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 20/03/2019 - 08:11

In reply to by sam61

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Hello sam61 As I understand it, you should use the comma before 'or' in this case. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saffron on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 15:59

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Hi, I'm rather confused as to whether 'none' is singular or plural... None of the girls walk/walks to school.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 18/10/2018 - 05:50

In reply to by Saffron

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Hello Saffron,

This depends on the context.

If none means 'not one' or 'not a single one', or when it is used with an uncount noun, it has a singular verb.

If none means 'not any (of the group)', it has a plural verb.

 

Thus, in your sentence both forms are possible. If you mean 'not a single girl' then use walks. If you mean 'not any of the girls' then use walk. I would say that the plural verb sounds more natural to me and would be my choice, but grammatically both are possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for your clarification, Mr Peter M.

Submitted by omarmohamed99 on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 21:25

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Dear sir, Could you tell me the difference between either and neither? I need to know the uses of each one

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 09/06/2018 - 04:37

In reply to by omarmohamed99

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Hi omarmohamed99,

'neither' has a negative meaning, whereas 'either' speaks about one or both of two objects or people. Have you looked up these two words in the dictionary (follow the links)? The definitions and example sentences would probably be quite helpful. If you have a specific question about one or the other of them, please don't hesitate to ask.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Wed, 31/01/2018 - 05:48

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Dear Sir I went through your website well. I understood that each, every, either, neither etc takes singular verbs. I am writing my own sentences. Please let me know they right or wrong because still I have doubts. For eg. Each boy and girl has a toy. Not have. Every boy and girl has a toy. Either your brother or sister has come. Either your brothers or sister has come. Either your brother or sisters have come. The verb is singular or plural depends on the noun after 'or.' I am I right or wrong plase let me know. It is the same with 'nor' (neither). Thank you. Regards

Submitted by Andrew international on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 12:40

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Dear Sir I would like to know using 'a lot of and lots of eg A lot of snakes are dangerous. Lots of snakes are dangerous. If both sentences are correct ? I would like to know the difference and also A few of them are students. Few of them are students. Please let me know. Thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 07:37

In reply to by Andrew international

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Hello Andrew international,

'A lot of' and 'lots of' have the same meaning but differ in terms of formality. 'Lots of' is more informal; 'a lot of' is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

There is a difference between 'a few' and 'few'. 'Few' suggests not enough:

There are a few people in the square. [there is a number of people]

There are few people in the square. [there are not many - less than we expected or wanted]

 

The same distinction is true of 'a little' and 'little' for uncount nouns:

Sure I can help you. I've got a little time.

I'm afraid I have very little time today so we can't meet.

 

You can read more about this on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 12:26

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Dear Sir I went through the above website (both, either, neither, each, every) I am asking your help to clear the following: Every boy has a computer. Each boy has a computer. Are these two sentences correct? Can I use 'every' for persons or only for things? I understood 'every can be any number and also each can be any number. Thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 13:34

In reply to by Andrew international

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Hello Andrew international,

Yes, your sentences are both correct. 'every' can be used to modify both singular words for people and things.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by NourSfieh on Sun, 10/12/2017 - 12:56

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Hi dears, in the above activity , May you please to explain more why we use "some" instead of "an " in this example (Could you give me .................... advice?) ? Regards Nour

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 11/12/2017 - 07:55

In reply to by NourSfieh

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Hi Nour,

The noun 'advice' is an uncount noun. We never say 'one advice' or 'an advice'. We can say 'some advice' or 'a piece of advice'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Paul_the_teacher on Sun, 03/12/2017 - 22:02

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I was wondering why you've included 'less' into the group which can be used with countable nouns... Although they can in the colloquial language, but we teach our students to stick to 'fewer'.

Hello Paul_the_teacher,

In our descriptions we try to describe language as it is used by the majority of speakers. In other words, as is standard in modern language analysis we provide a descriptive grammar rather than a prescriptive grammar. Traditionally 'less' was used with uncount nouns, as you say. However, language changes all the time and 'less' is now used with both count and uncount nouns, particularly in less formal speech (though it is not a colloquial form in the sense that 'loads of' and so on are. It is an example of the ongoing evolution of language and I think it is clear that this is a change which will only continue in the future until it becomes entirely standard.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by beckysyto on Fri, 27/10/2017 - 09:28

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Hi :) which of the following phrases is / are correct 1 a little cream 2 a little bit of cream 3 a little amount of cream 4 a small amount of cream Are they synonymous Are they used differently in different locations Do they differ in formality Thanks

Hi beckysyto,

Only the third phrase is incorrect. The first, second and fourth are all correct and have the same meaning. Perhaps the second is slightly less formal than the others but the difference is minimal.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello beckysyto,

We do not use 'little' as a modifier with for 'amount'. You can use 'large' or 'small' but not 'little'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yao Mou on Tue, 26/09/2017 - 14:47

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Hi Good afternoon! what is the differneces of each and every? Thanks a million Yao

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 26/09/2017 - 20:35

In reply to by Yao Mou

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Hello Yao Mou,

This is explained in detail on this Cambridge Dictionary page. Please have a look and then let us know if you have any more specific questions about it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by graduate on Sun, 10/09/2017 - 15:49

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hello! there's an idiom "as sure as eggs is eggs" (from oxford dictionary). could you explain why 'is', not 'are'? best regards

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 10/09/2017 - 18:42

In reply to by graduate

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Hello graduate,

I'm afraid I can't say much other than that this is a fixed expression that took this form many years ago. It might help to think of 'eggs' as a dish, in which case you could consider it singular.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ade Safrinal on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 03:45

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Hi Team, Could you please help to answer below question which makes me confused. Which one is correct between these two sentences: 1. Neither you nor I am a student. OR 2. Neither you nor I are a student. Thank you so much. Ade

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 07:51

In reply to by Ade Safrinal

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Hello Ade,

The rule which is often offered for agreement with neither... nor... is the following

a) the verb agrees with the subjects

b) where the subjects require different verbs, the verb agrees with the subject closest to it (i.e. the noun after nor)

However, this is not a very satisfactory rule for several reasons. First, it leads to odd sentences where one of the subjects is I, such as the one you quote. More importantly, it does not reflect the way the language is actually used. Plural verbs are far more common with the neither... nor... construction than singular verbs, even when two singular nouns are used.

Grammar is a descriptive system, reflecting the way language is actually used, not the way in which someone thinks it should be used. Therefore I would say that the second option, with are, is that which best reflects current English usage.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 07:53

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Hello graduate,

I would recommend using 'are' here as the version with 'am' sounds highly unnatural and is certainly not standard use in modern English. As I said, the plural form is already accepted and is slowly becoming the standard.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter Good afternoon. I have seen your very clear comments. i have one confusion, in your comments, you say ' a very satisfactory rule' So, what is the difference between satificatory and satisfied? Many thanks Yao

Hello again Yao Mou,

Have you looked up the two words in the dictionary? In general, something that is satisfactory causes satisfaction, whereas a person is satisfied with something. I think that should clarify their use, but if not, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Elvininho on Tue, 15/08/2017 - 14:41

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Good evening.Can you explain please what is the difference between "Both the supermarkets were closed" and Both of the supermarkets were closed" or "All the" and "All of the" Thanks)

Hello Elvininho,

There is no difference in meaning here. The term 'both' necessarily refers to an identified pair (two). There is a difference between 'Many supermarkets...' and 'Many of the supermarkets...', as the first is about supermarkets in general and the second about a particular group of supermarkets, already identified.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by graduate on Fri, 21/07/2017 - 05:24

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Kirk, thank you for your prompt answer. One more question then: how can I differentiate the difference in the meanings in the following context: We don't have to play musical chairs at the party. There are ........... kinds of other games the children can play. The task is to choose between "all" and "many". Now I understand why "all" is correct, but how what are the contextual reasons to prefer "all" to "many"? Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 22/07/2017 - 02:57

In reply to by graduate

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Hello graduate,

I don't know what the writer could have in mind here, but I'd say there's not much difference between them except that 'all' is more colloquial (and thus perhaps a bit more natural) than 'many' here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by graduate on Thu, 20/07/2017 - 20:33

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Hello! Could you possibly explain the difference between the following structures: There are many kinds of... and There are all kinds of... I've got two sentences with the structures: There are many kinds of other games the children can play. There are all kinds of other games the children can play. Are both of them correct? If not, which one is correct and why?

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 21/07/2017 - 03:35

In reply to by graduate

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Hello graduate,

Yes, both are correct and they both mean pretty much the same thing. 'all kinds of' is quite informal and also tends to be used to exaggerate, whereas 'many kinds of' is more general in use and meaning. Other than that, they mean the same thing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learning on Wed, 14/06/2017 - 03:52

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Dear Staff, This lesson mentions "Each child was given a prize. = All the children were given a prize." Can the latter sentence be changed to "All the children were given prizes" without changing its meaning? Thank you.

Hello learning,

There could be a slight change in meaning. 'a prize' clearly means each child got one prize. 'prizes' could mean that each child got more than one prize (it's not completely clear whether it's one or more than one prize for each).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by suliman ali 2000 on Sun, 07/05/2017 - 10:40

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Sir Peter M, My question is that why didn't you put ''of'' between All and what it is after it and also between ''Both'' and what it is after it, although you have already mentioned that we must put ''of'' between Both or All if the intended is preceded by ''the''. What I am talking about is in the top of the second and third column .

Hello suliman ali 2000,

The use of 'of the' is explained at the bottom of the grammar explanation:

 

Members of groups

 

You can put a noun after a quantifier when you are talking about members of a group in general…

 

Few snakes are dangerous.
Both brothers work with their father.
I never have enough money.

 

…but if you are talking about a specific group of people or things, use of the … as well

 

Few of the snakes are dangerous.
All of the children live at home.
He has spent all of his money.

 

Note that, if we are talking about two people or things we use the quantifiers both, either and neither

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by suliman ali 2000 on Sat, 06/05/2017 - 14:18

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Sorry, I wanted to say about the word All in the third column and Both in the second column. What about Both?..it is similar with all?

Hello suliman ali 2000,

We use 'both' when we are talking about two things and 'all' when we have three or more:

Both cars have ABS. [we are talking about two cars]

All of the cars are black. [we are talking about a group of cars of three or more]

All mammals have warm blood. [we are talking about every mammal without exception]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team